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Prosecution set to rest case against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs

Warren Jeffs
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs arrives at the Tom Green County Courthouse, Thursday, July 28, 2011, in San Angelo, Texas. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

(CBS/AP) SAN ANGELO, Texas - Prosecutors are set to rest their case in the trial of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who is accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15,  that he took as brides during so-called "spiritual marriages."

The 55-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.

A doctor and a forensic analyst testified Monday that Jeffs was the father of the 15-year-old's child. Prosecutors played the tape of Jeffs talking to the girl when she was 14 after Texas Ranger Nick Hannah testified about documents and electronic files seized during a 2008 police raid at the church's remote compound in West Texas.

Among the documents seized was a record of Jeffs' spiritual marriage "for time and all eternity" with the 14-year-old in January 2004. An excerpt from hundreds of pages of Jeffs' personal journals said the child was "pure and innocent and willing to obey" and he summoned her parents and "informed them of their girl belonging to me."

Hannah read from Jeffs' journals, which said he took the 14-year-old the night after their wedding with him and another of his new wives on a car ride outside the church's headquarters along the Utah-Arizona border for "training." There he instructed them on their responsibilities as his wives and had the session taped. The recording was transcribed and placed in church records later seized by police.

Lead prosecutor Eric Nichols played the tape for jurors, who followed along using transcripts. The recording was difficult to understand due to traffic noise, and the transcript wasn't made public.

"A good wife is trained for her husband and follows the spirit of peace," Jeffs is heard saying. He also makes reference to "drawing close" or "being close," which is how church members refer to sex. Two female voices are heard saying "OK."

Jeffs has represented himself since firing his high-powered attorneys last week. He objected half a dozen times to the tape being played, arguing that the training session was protected by religious privacy rights. State District Judge Barbara Walther overruled him.

When prosecutors played a tape of a second training session later in the day, Jeffs stood up and talked over it.

"I am but a mortal man seeking peace," Jeffs said as the tape played. "I am not a threat to anyone. My faith is my only weapon."

Complete coverage of Warren Jeffs on Crimesider